The Estevan Police Service (EPS) has announced that the popular birthday drive-by initiative with other local emergency services will be ending June 7.
Monica Rae, the community programming officer for the EPS, said the birthday drive-by events have been going for a couple of months, and with the province gradually opening up again, people have a few more options for birthday celebrations.
Phase 3 of the provincial government’s Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan says that as of June 8, people can have 15 people present for an indoor gathering and 30 people attending an outdoor session, although social distancing rules have to be followed.
“It does open up some opportunities for people,” said Rae.
People have also been staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and not going to activities such as birthday parties.
The birthday drive-by program was initiated by the EPS early on during the pandemic to create a memorable birthday experience for local youths who otherwise wouldn’t have had a birthday celebration.
But Rae noted it was always meant to be a temporary engagement intuitive to support families in recognizing and honouring birthdays while they were staying in their homes and adhering to the necessary guidelines.
The first birthday activity was April 3, and since then, Rae said the EPS has participated in more than 100 such events. The Estevan Fire Rescue Service and Estevan Emergency Medical Services soon joined the EPS, creating a line of emergency vehicles making their way down the street with their lights and sirens on, to the delight of the birthday person.
Fire trucks were there for most of the parades, while ambulances were present when they could attend.
A birthday card was also presented.
Response to the drive-by activities has been fantastic, Rae said.
“Even from their faces at the actual drive-by, and comments that we have received through our social media, through emails, within our community, people have called in and expressed their gratitude, and we’re just really honoured and thrilled to have been a part of it.”
Social distancing guidelines were adhered to during the activities.
Most of the birthday drive-by celebrations have been for children, but emergency crews have also helped adults celebrate milestone birthdays, and they even appeared at the birthdays of a couple of people in their 80s and 90s.